Expository Essay On Identity And Belonging

In today's society and culture, being an individual is not only essential to your identity and what you portray yourself as, but also knowing who you are and where you fit in. For many minority groups in America, fitting in can be especially difficult because even though the U.S. is a melting pot, minority cultures and languages are often swept under the rug to make room for dominant cultural ideals. Assimilation into mainstream culture can more often than not make an individual feel out of touch with their culture and community. In a fascinating way, Aza Nedhari  evaluates oppression in the American culture and complex identity for black males specifically. “The reactionary behaviors and coping mechanisms that manifest from this cultural group may appear incomprehensible to one who is not challenged with an anomalous form of self-awareness defined by a conflicting identity that forces the Black male to view himself through the lens of the dominant culture that does not perceive and does not allow him to function as equal. “ Black males in our society are held up to a certain standard that is somewhat unattainable given that it is based on white male characteristics and paradigms. It almost seems as if black males are unsupported in our cultural, societal and economic system  based off the fact that they are seen through the “lens of the dominant culture”.


In the black community, mental health is such a taboo topic that is not often talked about. In this quote by Simone Sneed, she speaks about her experience with mental illness and the emotional tension she had developed from growing up as an outsider. “Health care providers can be insensitive to the cultural experiences of African Americans. There are some health care providers who assume that…strife in black people or having a difficult time are what’s to be expected…in some cases they may normalize what may be a traumatic reaction.” From the history of slavery to today, many African Americans, particularly those who have risen on  the socio-economic and professional ladder in the face of institutionalized racism still struggle with feeling the need to always be strong, which results in unhealthy coping mechanisms and internalized feelings of hatred. Belonging in this sense can be hard given that some are so emotionally and socially isolated that they feel as though they can not trust anyone and deal with their problems alone.


With blacks being the subject of racialized discourse that has socially established us as being criminals and unprincipled people, this challenges our right to a legitimate and respectable identity. Having a positive identity can be difficult for blacks in america because of the stigmas and stereotypes that weigh so heavily on how other people see us. This can even more difficult when the media adds on to the negative connotations. Racism Review brings up the topic of the media pandering to white audiences whiling slandering the black community in the process. “When racist media, such as Fox News, use black intellectual mercenaries to pander to white audiences to denounce a cultural practice or particular behavior in African Americans in general, they are, in essence, identifying African Americans as subjects worthy to be oppressed, absolving a racialized society of all blame for their oppressed condition and the reason such behavior has become a normalized practice.” Because of the misrepresentation of the black community on such popular platforms, this only fuels the way people see blacks.


Different aspects in life affect the way people see and recognize the black community, but most of the time that is out of our control. The constant marginalization of our culture, language, hair, skin color, and more can be a burden on our spirits, but they are all important facets of the identities of black people everywhere.  In a system we were put into where we cannot prosper may inhibit us, but it will not define us and we will continue to be strong in the face of oppression.


Works Cited


Nedhari, Aza. "In Search of Manhood: The Black Male's Struggle for Identity and Power." Inquiries Journal. N.p., 11 Nov. 2009. Web. 18 Jan. 2017.


Hamm, Nia. "Black Folks and Mental Health: Why Do We Suffer in Silence?" EBONY. N.p., 01 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Jan. 2017.


"African Americans' Social & Racial Identity Under Attack -." Racism Review. N.p., 01 Apr. 2011. Web. 18 Jan. 2017.

Society has played a crucial role throughout time in impacting people to have the natural human desire to be accepted into society and adhere to its expectations and pressures. Maintaining a strong sense of individual identity in today's society proves to be a difficult and complex ideal that can only be achieved if personal sacrifices are to be made. Individual's who desperately seek acceptance and belonging will neglect their true identity in order to conform to the expectations of others.   Individuals who are faced with restrictions that impose on their individuality will experience immense hardship and masking those feelings for the sake of acceptance. Therefore in the aim of a strong sense of individual identity, individuals who withstand and refrain from succumbing to society's expectations are those who remain true their own identity regardless.

Individual's shielding their true identity in order to be accepted and belong to particular groups of society. A person's beliefs and loyalty can be lost to a preference of loosing their sense of self and identity, by willingly conforming for the sake of belonging. This idolized choice of changing one's self for the acceptance of others is featured prominently through media and advancements of materialistic objects. Vulnerable and unconfident individuals will generally have a foreshadowed perception of popularity and tend to place those who are of richer or of popular basis on pedestals, desiring to be accepted by that elite group of people. Inevitably approving any form of personal identity change by hiding their moral and ethical views in order to gain a place in the hierarchy. Although, this is of typical behaviour regardless if it was a child or a grown adult, individuals naturally want to belong and have that feeling of security and acceptance by their peers. The famous poet Oscar Wilde states “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a...

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